Rick Berg, “To be perfectly clear, I support the Senate (farm bill) proposal.” (Except that I really don’t.)

Photo: Bismarck Tribune

At a meeting in Bismarck, Rick Berg tried to create a foil for voting to cut farm bill spending by $180 Billion stating “The balance of this $180 billion is talking about nutritional programs.”  (Except it is not.)

Reading the April 5 story from the Bismarck Tribune one might get the impression that Berg is standing up for ND farmers against ‘colleagues who are not in districts heavily dependent on agriculture’.  But the truth is, Berg voted with those colleagues who don’t understand agriculture when he voted for the Ryan Budget plan that cut farm and ranch program spending by $47 Billion dollars!

So let’s dissect Berg’s statements a bit here

Does he support the Senate Proposal slated to reduce farm program spending by $23 Billion dollars?  Actually no.  The proposal being advanced by Senators Conrad and Hoeven reduces farm level spending by approximately $19 Billion dollars with an additional $4 Billion in nutrition spending reductions, same as the bi-partisan proposal last fall.  Berg, however, voted for $177 Billion in reductions in those categories when he voted on the Ryan Budget last spring and $180 Billion in reductions when he voted for the Ryan Budget this year.  That doesn’t show much support for ‘the Senate proposal’, does it?

Is the balance of the $180 Billion he voted to cut nutrition programs as he asserted?  Actually no.  The Senate proposal cuts farm level spending by $19 Billion while Berg voted for a $47 Billion dollar reduction of farm level spending.  Maybe Congressman Berg needs a calculator, but you’d think he could rely on third grade math to determine that $28 Billion of the ‘balance’ came out of farm and ranch pockets.  Nice try Rick, but it doesn’t add up.

To make matters worse, I’m informed by someone who attended the meeting that Berg tried to spin sequestration reductions (resulting from the failure of the “supercommittee” process last fall) as more than double what they really are.  Berg told the agricultural groups that sequestration would cut farm bill spending by $31 Billion dollars!  In fact, all estimates mentioned so far have hovered just over $15 Billion.

Why the difference Mr. Berg? Well, it seems that aside from voting to cut $180 Billion from the farm bill in the Ryan Budget, Berg also voted to rescind anticipated sequestration in Defense and redistribute those reductions elsewhere – you know, like to the farm bill.  So the additional $16 Billion in farm bill cuts Berg tried to pawn off as sequestration were really an additional vote he cast to make the farm bill situation twice as bad as it already was!

So let’s get this straight.  The farm bill is due to take a $15 Billion hit due to the failure of the supercommitttee.  Berg votes to more than double that reduction to $31 Billion.  But there’s more.  He votes for a budget that cuts farm level spending by $47 Billion!  But to justify the deeper cuts, he points to the $31 Billion reduction that will occur in the House based on his own actions!  Remarkable!!!

Confusing?  Yes – but it is Congressman Berg’s logic.  To be fair, he sold his vote to Karl Rove (in a North Dakota way, I assume) and he has to vote against North Dakota’s interests to keep the campaign cash coming in and to fund the new SuperPac formed by those who bought his vote.  Somebody has to protect their interests, right?